Natsu Day 7 Highlights

Sold Out/Sellout Banners at Kokugikan - Natsu 2019
The Natsu basho is sold out, and many of Tachiai’s friends make up the audience

As Bruce related, we’re happy that many Tachiai readers and friends of the site have descended on Ryogoku, especially this weekend, to join together and watch sumo. On a personal note, it has been great to see old friends and meet new friends, and I will be again in attendance Day 9. If you’re attending the basho as well, let us know!

Let’s get into the day’s action:

Quick Juryo Week 1 Update

It’s looking increasingly likely that we will have yet another top division debutant when the Nagoya basho rolls around. Takagenji quickly dismantled the promising Wakatakakage with a furious nodowa and tsuppari attack to move to 7-0 and retain sole lead of the yusho race, and close in on the last couple of wins to all but guarantee his promotion from Juryo 2. His brother Takanofuji also won down in Makushita to grab kachi-koshi and perhaps seal a quick return to Juryo, with the brothers a combined 11-0. Toyonoshima, now 6-1 following his straightforward win over Takanosho, also looks likely to make an instant return to makuuchi.

All but guaranteed not to make an instant return to the top division he occupied for so long is sumo mummy Ikioi, who scored a painful first victory which saw him collapsing in a heap off the side of the dohyo having narrowly pushed out Azumaryu. The gyoji’s call survived a monoii, which is probably more than could have been said about Isenoumi’s long time sekitori were a torinaoshi to have been called. The good news for Ikioi is that his sole victory almost certainly spares him the indignity of a (possible, small sample size caveats apply) demotion straight through the trap door to Makushita had he continued to draw a blank.

And now, for the top division, on a day that saw the legendary Kitanofuji again join the NHK commentary team…

Day 7 Matches

Ishiura defeats Chiyoshoma – It’s a double henka! Just kidding. It’s just Ishiura that henkas, which he attempts to turn into an arm-bar throw that doesn’t quite come off. The match then develops into some submarine sumo with both men quite low on one side of the dohyo, with Ishiura landing the better left hand grip on Chiyoshoma’s somewhat loose mawashi. Eventually Chiyoshoma changes stance which prompts Ishiura to pull the winning shitatehineri. We’ve seen Ishiura do that a few times in the past and it’s one of his better winning moves.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Enho – Here are two men who can’t even make one Ichinojo between them. Terutsuyoshi lands a strong right hand grip early on in this one, which Enho spends a second trying to work out how to break. Terutsuyoshi takes him on a mini Harumafuji style death spin before sweeping the Hakuho recruit straight down on his back, and it’s ruled a rare susoharai. Enho walks off the dohyo looking like he’s been buried in the beach, he’s 5-2 and Terutsuyoshi gets a much needed 3rd win.

Daishoho defeats Tokushoryu – With Nishikigi fighting Shodai, Daishoho got called up to the Kakuryu dohyo-iri so he must have been all kinds of excited to show off his brand of sumo today. It’s tough to say he needed to do it, as Tokushoryu moved him straight back from the tachiai, at which point he stepped to the side, gave a tug on the big Kise man’s shoulder and let gravity do the rest – hatakikomi. Daishoho takes the battle of the 2-3 men to move back to .500 on the basho.

Kotoeko defeats Sadanoumi – Kotoeko might be looking soon at his first top division kachi-koshi as he grabs a 5th win in a fairly unremarkable match. Sadanoumi starts by moving forward, but just can’t get a grip here. Kotoeko’s able to use a blend of mawashi work and finally, thrusting to win by oshi-dashi and deposit Sadanoumi in the lap of the shimpan.

Shohozan defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru’s 90s Geocities website background green mawashi inspires perhaps a little trepidation. Shohozan pulls after a cagey tachiai before the two lock up in the centre of the dohyo, and yet again in this basho, Chiyomaru finds himself in a grappling match. Shohozan is a slapper but better in this position, and manages to get both hands all the way around the big man on the belt. That’s fairly incredible. The bigger issue is actually moving him, which Shohozan tries a couple times with no luck. Chiyomaru tries to shake off Shohozan, but can’t manage a throw, and Shohozan simply runs the roly poly Kokonoe rikishi out of real estate and corrals him across the dohyo to take the win. Weird sumo.

Onosho defeats Yago – After a matta, the two bounce off each other and exchange pulling attempts. Unfortunately for Yago, Onosho actually lands his and picks up a fairly quick win. He’s 4-3, and Yago is now 3-4.

Shimanoumi defeats Kagayaki – Shimanoumi moves forward well from the tachiai, survives a couple very weak throw attempts and and an even poorer pull attempt from Kagayaki, and wins easily by a light oshidashi. It’s a 3rd win for the new makuuchi man which helps get his kachi-koshi mission back on track, and for “Tactics” Kagayaki it’s a disastrous 6th loss in 7. Fans of obscure stats will find it curious that we could soon see an absence of single kanji shikona rikishi in the top division for the first time in many years, if he doesn’t turn his act around.

Tochiozan defeats Tomokaze – Even tachiai, but it’s another lesson in top division sumo for the promising Tomokaze as Tochiozan sees him leaning forward and puts a firm hand on the back of the Oguruma man’s head and hits the firm hatakikomi. Both men are still “in the black,” but it’s Tochiozan that grabs his 5th win today.

Nishikigi defeats Shodai – It’s a slow motion tachiai as Shodai predictably stands up and it feels like Nishikigi is running for ages – even if it’s only 2 steps – until he makes contact with the Tokitsukaze man. Shodai implausibly moves forward well from this position, but does not land a belt grip and this is his key mistake, choosing instead to get in under the arms of Nishikigi. Moving backwards, Nishikigi pulls what is ruled a kotenage arm-lock throw that at first glance didn’t look massively different than a sukuinage.

Asanoyama defeats Yoshikaze – The violet shimekomi derby ends with a win for the man from Takasago-beya. Asanoyama rebounds from a loss and continues his strong tournament by taking control of the match after a fairly even tachiai. He attempts a grip on the back of Yoshikaze’s belt but only succeeds in untying it, but spares the fans an X-rated view by dispatching the Oguruma veteran with an oshidashi before the censors have to get involved. Asanoyama is up to 6-1 and very much still on the fringe of the yusho race for now.

Ryuden defeats Kaisei – Habitual line-stepper Ryuden seems a little off rhythm as it takes Kaisei ages to complete his pre-basho routine, so it’s no surprise when the matta addict commits another neutral zone infraction. He deploys an odd strategy here and allows Kaisei to take full control of proceedings, and his strategy is clearly to use the large Brazilian’s mass-inertia combination against him. At the very edge of the edge, Ryuden goes for the pull and very, very narrowly wins by hatakikomi as the two men crash into the crowd. Kaisei seems to have suffered a right arm injury as a result by Ryuden’s pull down, which was executed primarily with a pull of said arm after an initial tug on Kaisei’s head. Ryuden is 5-2 with Kaisei now 3-4, and it will be interesting to see what effect the injury may have on his attempts to get kachi-koshi from here.

Meisei defeats Myogiryu – Meisei in some ways looks like a young Myogiryu. There’s an almighty blast at the tachiai in this battle of 2-4 rikishi, but it’s Meisei that keeps moving forward. Despite a last ditch pull attempt from Myogiryu, it’s a quick and straightforward oshidashi for Meisei as he grabs his 3rd win.

Okinoumi defeats Takarafuji – Most of this match is much of a muchness, with the largely defensive Takarafuji trying in vain to find the impetus against a stubborn Okinoumi. Neither man can really get a decent grip, but eventually the man from Shimane-ken manages to get the Aomori native Takarafuji high, and with Takarafuji’s center of gravity raised, Okinoumi simply pushes – almost tipping – him over for a much needed 2nd win.

Abi defeats Endo – This pretty-boy battle has a properly zen Kotoshogiku looking like he’s ready to fall asleep on the side of the dohyo before the match. Hopefully he opened his eyes because this was over in a flash. After a matta (courtesy of Abi), the yobidashi gets forced into quick action on the run with the chikara-mizu barrel as a listless Endo gets thrusted out at the back corner by a trademark Abi attack. 5 wins for Abi, 5 losses for Endo.

Mitakeumi defeats Aoiyama – This is all oshi all the way. My computer tried to autocorrect that to Oshiogawa. The funny thing is that maybe not unlike the former Takekaze, Aoiyama entered this match looking for a quick pull-down. However, he was unable to execute and subsequently a little late to the party when it came to finding the type of brutal tsuppari for which he is better known and which did for Tamawashi earlier in the basho. His mistake here was probably not sticking with his more established brand of sumo from the start. Mitakeumi took a couple hits but simply weathered the storm, kept his balance and positioning and footwork on point and shoved the bigger man out. Very composed stuff again from Mitakeumi, who moves to 5-2.

Tochinoshin defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku enters this match with a 24-9 lifetime edge over his fellow former ozeki but very much the severe underdog. But that’s sumo. Tochinoshin’s right knee appears to have even more intense bandaging on it than usual. In a world starting to become dominated by pusher-thrusters, it’s refreshing to get two classic old fashioned belt guys to go at it, and they take it in turns.

Both land their favoured grips immediately – and Kotoshogiku loses his almost as quickly. Kotoshogiku gets a good run at the Georgian as he tries to get both arms inside, but just doesn’t have enough power in his gaburi-yori to finish the job. Kotoshogiku’s relative lightness on his feet is always his undoing, and that’s a perfect match for the power of Tochinoshin who as we know, loves to lift his opponents. As Kotoshogiku vaults up into the air, Tochinoshin pulls back on the throttle and launches his way across the dohyo. It’s 7-0 for the yusho challenger, who needs 3 from 8 to retake his rank and restore the Ozeki count to four for the first time since Kotoshogiku’s demotion.

Hokutofuji defeats Ichinojo – One way traffic, and it’s all the impressive Hokutofuji. The Hakkaku man has performed better than his record would indicate owing to a typically brutal week 1 schedule, but he easily gets the better of the enormous Mongolian Ichinojo at the tachiai. He lands his hands under Ichinojo’s armpits in an attempt to drive him back and keep him high, and apart from one desperation shove to the head by Ichinojo, two more shoves are all that’s in this match as Hokotofuji finishes the job quick smart. He’s up to 3 wins now and in with a shout of moving back up to san’yaku if he can finish the turnaround, while Ichinojo has 5 losses with a tough second week still to come and his rank very much at risk.

Goeido defeats Tamawashi – Both of these guys need a win, with Goeido needing it a little bit more after a rough couple of days and wanting to stay out of kadoban trouble following a good run over the last year. This isn’t particularly good sumo from Goeido, who tries in vain to get a grip, while Tamawashi tries to get Goeido to play into his style of thrusting sumo. Goeido seems to win this by as much sheer willpower as he has lost matches by earlier in the week – he fends off a couple brutal thrusts to the head and just manages to keep his offensive mindset and tendency active and engaged. He’s better on the front foot, and after an ugly series of thrusts, manages to get the oshidashi to move up to 4-3, with Tamawashi holding a mirror record.

Takayasu defeats Daieisho – If there’s a better oicho-mage than Takayasu’s then I’ll drink a bottle of binzuke. Takayasu once again gets the worst of the tachiai. His tachiai is confused, disjointed and just plain weird, as he seems to be totally missing a plan of attack. I don’t know what he and Araiso have been plotting for the last month at keiko, but surely this couldn’t have been the battle plan. In today’s case, he can’t even deploy his shoulder blast before Daieisho has his hands all over the Ozeki. Both men trade nodowa attempts, but Takayasu’s experience tells as he simply side steps a thrust to find Daieisho off balance, and just needs a simple push to get the oshi-dashi win. With respect to Daieisho, against a stronger opponent with more experience of san’yaku opponents, Takayasu would have been in real trouble today.

Kakuryu defeats Chiyotairyu – I kind of love Chiyotairyu’s salt toss, as if he’s just absolutely disgusted with the pile of salt. We get a matta here, followed by an incredibly straightforward win for the Yokozuna, moving forward en route to a perfect 7-0 record. Chiyotairyu started a ways back from the shiriki-sen, as if to get a run up to launch his famous cannonball tachiai. But, it would be foolish to expect the Yokozuna wasn’t prepared for the Kokonoe man’s one trick, and landed a quick right hand outside grip on Chiyotairyu’s mawashi before he could even get into the match. With his left hand pushing on Chiyotairyu’s chest, he simply escorted the junior rikishi out in a motion akin to a lazy butsukari session. Easy.

35 thoughts on “Natsu Day 7 Highlights

    • Just speaking for me – other Tachiai contributors may have their own thoughts – but there’s certainly shades of Mitakeumi coming back from the dead against all odds in January to try and pull off an unlikely kachi-koshi.

      Medically I don’t really understand it but culturally I understand why he wants to return. And really those are two very different things. There is a duty to the rank and perhaps he feels that he needs to deliver. Purely as a sumo fan I’m a little nervous, but we’ll see what we get.

  1. Some random thoughts:
    (1) GO ON ABI!! I love Endo too and take no pleasure in his loss. But this match showed that it is no simple matter to avoid Abi’s plan A, even when you know what’s coming, if it is executed with this kind of ferocity. Which makes Takarafuji’s win yesterday seem even better in retrospect. Endo is a guy with bags full of technique and experience, but he got smoked by Abi’s trademark 2-handed attack today.
    (2) The pixie fight was great fun to watch. I guess I feel sorry for Enho but then again: live by the leg-trip, die by the leg-trip.
    (3) I was getting concerned that Shohozan might be starting to suffocate when he just about managed to get that double inside grip around the endless expanse of Chiyomaru’s belly – his face seemed to disappear worryingly into the yielding flesh that it was pressing into…
    (4) Having started off disliking Goeido and then gradually evolving a grudging respect, I now find I am actively rooting for him sometimes – he just looks so disgruntled when he loses! I feel like his tactics today were both astute and brave, not allowing too much distance to open up between himself and Tamawashi, which required absorbing a few hearty slaps to the face.
    (5) Special K seems to have reverted to blasting dudes straight out of the dohyo from the tachiai – and Chiyotairyu no less. Which I guess lends some support to the theory that his recent habit of pulling and back-pedalling was a mental issue rather than the result of an injury?

  2. If Ikioi will get his second win and take a break from the rest of the basho to heal up, he’ll blaze through Juryo next time around. Kagayaki should get his s***t together, because he’s on a Juryo path similar to Ikioi’s from the previous tournament.

    • Ikioi has proven to us that he doesn’t recognize the concept of “resting to heal up” during honbasho. You have seen his blog post after last basho? He mentions that he had 40ºC and that leg looking that way, and he still attended the basho. He is going to do the whole 15 days.

  3. As to Kotoeko, he actually has the exact same pattern of wins and losses over the first 7 days as he did last basho, where he had a terrible week 2 to finish 7-8.

    • Nice catch! I’m sure he’s hoping that this time, again from a position of strength, he can find the final win he needs to grab that first kachi-koshi. There is a history of rikishi with several top division basho without a winning record (actually I’d love to know the record for this), but he’s going to be pressing his luck at some point.

    • He wasn’t on the dohyo today – he’s back in action on Day 8 against Oitekaze’s 19 year old Daishosei and currently sits 3-0 (and continues to win at the drastically reduced level despite not looking that great)

  4. Kakuryu has never had a zensho yusho but he looks well on course for his first 15-0. His win over Chiyotairyu today was a classic “beat them at their own game” performance. Chiyotairyu is famous for his hard, powerful tachi-ai so Kakuryu just blasted forward and shoved him out in about 2 seconds.

    • I think it was good… I don’t know if it’s enough on its own yet, to discount the really well put comments from Herouth and Bruce though about his performance over the previous two days. So I’ll be interested to see if he can keep moving forward against Tamawashi who has a bit more in his locker and is the kind of guy that may cause Big K to retreat. He did a great job of neutralising Chiyotairyu’s action at the tachiai… it seems simple but really he had a game plan and executed it masterfully, especially if you watch the hand placement. 15-0 might be a lot to ask especially with Tochinoshin looking in rude health but it’s possible a 13-2 will still get the job done this time and I continue to back him to do it.

    • In his Yokozuna career, Kakuryu started with 8 wins seven times. Only two of those ended with a Yusho, none with a zensho-yusho (of course). Remember his Aki 2018? Ten straight wins followed by five straight losses. The second week is tougher, despite Goeido’s and Takayasu’s shaky situation. In fact, perhaps because of their situation they are going to be fighting tooth and nail in the second week. And who knows what state Takakeisho is in.

      • Very much this

        The thing now is that you have three wild cards and they are all named Ozeki

        I don’t think G&T (ice and a slice?) can claw their way back into contention, but certainly they can play spoiler and throw a couple black stars into the yusho arasoi

        It should add some intrigue to the final few days

      • Kakuryu has certainly been known to lose focus in the second week. I do think, however, that there is something a bit different about him this time; the flat-out, bulldozing aggression he has shown is not the tricky, reactive style to which we have grown accustomed. He shoved Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji and Chiyotairyu off the dohyo like they were absolute crp and those guys are emphatically NOT crp. I think that this one is going to be decided by the Kakuryu v Tochinoshin bout which should happen on Wednesday or Thursday. I will be rooting for Tochi, but the smart money is on Kakuryu,

        • Here’s an interesting hypothetical. Obviously we’re a very long way away from this happening, but if Tochi somehow won this basho and the next, would that count for a Yokozuna promotion, or would the YDC say no because he (temporarily) wasn’t ranked Ozeki? I kinda want it to happen just to see what they’d do, even aside from being a big Tochi fan.

          • Is there a precedent? It wouldn’t surprise me if they require another high win basho afterwards.

          • My best guess is that he would not be immediately promoted to Yokozuna after Nagoya because it wouldn’t actually be two straight Yusho as Ozeki, but they’d probably not look for anything more than 12 wins in Aki in such a case.

          • I believe the answer is “no”. The famous “two consecutive yusho or equivalent” condition always includes the phrase “as an Ozeki”. I believe the matter would not even reach the YDC (they only approve/disapprove yokozuna promotions that the NSK queries them about. The NSK decides whether to query or not).

          • I’m guessing that they would “consider the matter carefully”, which means “no”. I do think that Tochi has at least one more yusho in him,

  5. Kakuryu’s victory was made easier by the fact that the gyoji let him get away with putting exactly zero hands down at the tachiai 😒

  6. Terutsuyoshi and Enho literally spent the last jungyo sleeping together. Terutsuyoshi loves his little pixie like a brother (right? right?!), but he leaves both his loves and his grudges outside the dohyo when he mounts it. He played with Enho like a ragdoll. Enho couldn’t adjust his one weird trick to a man his own size, whereas Terutsuyoshi has a bagful of techniques straight from the Aminishiki Research Institute of Obscure Waza. Too bad he doesn’t always pick the right one – his two previous bouts were unimaginative and ended in a loss.

    The Japanese, by the way, noted that Enho fell flat “like the character 大” (大の字). It’s an actual expression meaning lying spread-eagled.

    Shodai made the same mistake Shohozan did the day before: got into Nishikigi’s armpit. Nishikigi’s armpits are the pits of hell. It is better to put your hand in a Sarlacc’s pit than Nishikigi’s armpit.

    I hope Kaisei didn’t hurt his arm too badly. He was holding it much the same way that Hakuho did as he bowed and as he made his way down the hana-michi. Regarding that bout, interestingly, though Konosuke was very resolute and there was no monoii, the TV team was doubtful: “It really looked like Kaisei was attacking. Ah, Ryuden is pulling him down. Then again…” – which means they consider Ryuden to have been as dead as Kaisei, though his foot was clearly inside. Otherwise the question of who was attacking would not be raised. Can’t say if Konosuke thought the same, though.

    • I think Kaisei’s place in Makuuchi is safe with 3 wins from M8e should he withdraw, but it’s cutting it pretty fine.

      • With Kagayaki and others really struggling for wins, I thik Kaisei will be fine. The bottom of the banzuke is definitely still unstable for people like Chiyoshoma.

    • I am glad you caught that too, re Shodai, because sometimes we can identify these tactical/technical things and it can feel subjective. It goes to show how important hand positioning is. Even with a bad tachiai he had the beating of Nishikigi with his drive and footwork, but he made a poor decision to try and execute the win and paid for it.

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